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Is Life Expectancy in Our Genes? New Research Suggests It is (Video)

Is Life Expectancy in Our Genes? New Research Suggests It is (Video)

New research at the University of Glasgow has suggested that life expectancy is genetically related – and can be determined early on.

The research on Zebra Finches was published in the January issue in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

It showed that the lifespan of the finches can be determined from early in life using the length of specialized pieces of DNA called telomeres, which occur at the ends of the chromosomes that contain our genetic code.

Telomeres deter the degradation of genes near the ends of chromosomes by allowing chromosome ends to shorten, which necessarily occurs during chromosome replication. Over time, due to each cell division, the telomere ends do become shorter.

Their deterioration has been shown to cause cells to malfunction – hence the effect on life expectancy.

Measuring the telomores, they determined that the best prediction of lifespan was made at 25 days old. It is the first study to do this throughout the lifespan of an animal.

Dr Britt Heidinger from the University of Glasgow said:

“While there was a lot of variation amongst individuals in telomere length, those birds that lived longest had the longest telomeres at every measurement point.”

This impact of telomeres applies to all life but, as the BBC presenter in the below video jokes, Zebra Finches don’t eat pies and crisps – the researchers next step will be to look at environmental factors alongside early life experience and inheritance.

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3:14AM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

2:04AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

Gary A, even if a had that "aging disease". I suffer chronic pains at times and it can be unbearable. The docs and hospitals cannot seem to find a cause. Usually the severe intestinal cramps go away in about 12-24 hours. The rest of the time my feet hurt, especially when I walk.
I suspect arthritis, and meds don't help that much. If I could get rid of the pain and fatigue and depression,, and had a good life, I wouldn't mind living to be 100 or more.

1:56AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

Don't think so.

1:06AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Thank you.

11:57AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

The inequity is grossly unfair. A government program is needed immediately to address this disparity.

11:37AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

A great deal of human health and life expectancy is encoded in the genes, but there is also a lot we can do to mitigate shortcomings and sometimes even overcome them.

10:17AM PST on Jan 15, 2012

Blood cells overrule genes anyday of the week. Combat from within is what internal medicine and like treatments are all about - including homeopathic, spiritual, et al.

2:45AM PST on Jan 15, 2012


2:10AM PST on Jan 15, 2012

@ Shar F
- "So if we all would start doing things right, our descendents would have good genes!"
No, they won't: our descendants will have our genes anyway, good or bad....

8:29PM PST on Jan 14, 2012

OF COURSE genes have to do with life expectancy. Along with diet, life style, etc., etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. These people are being PAID to research this crap, when it is a given.

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Thanks for this bit of good news! Hopefully it will end up being more than the 12 months.

Great story! It's wonderful what they did for Anthony and other kids who wear hearing aids.

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